Fiji rugby

Savea and Lienert-Brown back for All Blacks, Mo'unga starts at first-five

Coach Ian Foster has made nine changes to the starting XV from the first test win over Fiji.

The loose forwards have been swapped out with Ardie Savea returning from injury to start at openside, with Akira Ioane at blindside and Luke Jacobson at No.8, replacing Ethan Blackadder, Shannon Frizell and Hoskins Sotutu.

Anton Lienert-Brown is back in the midfield after overcoming injury and he'll start at centre outside second-five David Havili, pushing Rieko Ioane to the reserves.

It will be the 50th test match for both Savea and Lienert-Brown.

Fiji rugby reaches compromise on Vaccinate message

The team was supposed to wear jerseys with the words "Vaccinate Fiji" emblazoned on the chest in last Saturday's first test against New Zealand in Dunedin, but the idea was ditched at the last minute because of opposition from some team members.

In a statement, Fiji Rugby Chief Executive John O'Connor said that after "comprehensive and productive discussions" with the Flying Fijian players, the team has agreed to wear the playing jersey featuring the "Vaccinate Fiji" message.

'These guys are rock stars': All Blacks in no way surprised by Fiji's first-test effort

The 57-23 win in Dunedin flattered the hosts in a match where they were dominated at the breakdown by the athletic, powerful frames of the hard-working Fijian forwards, before being able to take advantage of a tiring visiting side – fresh out of quarantine – late on.

Fiji, who had played just a single test since the 2019 World Cup, were a welcome step up from their Pacific neighbours, Tonga, who New Zealand had belted 102-0 a week prior.

'The Islands are the future': Fiji ready for expanded Rugby Championship

The Flying Fijians brought physicality, structure and tempo to the test and troubled the All Blacks for the best part of an hour. The side’s lack of preparation time as a squad leading up to the test seemingly did not show, as some nicely worked interchanges saw them rack up three tries in 60 minutes.

Considering some of the names missing from the Fijian squad for this two-test Steinlager Series with the All Blacks, head coach Vern Cotter will most likely be pleased with how his side represented themselves, both on and off the pitch on Saturday.

Smith earns All Blacks captaincy, will Fiji be any better than Tonga?

Smith will lead the All Blacks against Fiji in Dunedin on Saturday and the question is, will the Flying Fijians pose a bigger challenge than the under strength Tongans who overcame a mountain of obstacles just to field a team last week at Mt Smart?

The All Blacks coach Ian Foster has made 13 changes to his starting XV from the one that crushed Tonga and he said Smith deserves the right to captain the side against Fiji.

Fiji confident ahead of All Blacks Test

Peni Ravia, Sam Matavei and Mesake Doge will lead the forward pack, guided by Leone Nakarawa in the second row and Albert Tuisue at backrow.

The backline is packed with experience in Ben Volavola and Simione Kuruvoli who will share the halves position. Captain Levani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu marshall the midfield, Nemani Nadolo and Eroni Sau are on the wings and Kini Murimurivalu is at full-back.

Seta Tuicuvu will be covering substitute for full-back, first five and halfback while three debutants have been named on the bench.

Fiji Rugby Union announce multi-year deal with sportswear giants Nike

The deal, which will last until 2024, means Nike will replace ISC as the kit manufacturer for the Fiji men’s and women’s XVs and sevens teams.

FRU chief executive John O’Connor said the deal was significant for the organisation given the global reputation of Nike and the fact that it is the first time the American apparel brand has sponsored a Pacific rugby nation.

Northampton Saints and Fiji hooker extends Franklin's Gardens deal

The club say the 29-year-old's new deal will see him stay "for the 2021-22 season and beyond".

Matavesi has made 27 appearances for Saints since joining them from Championship club Cornish Pirates in 2019, scoring three tries.

"We've been thrilled with his development since he joined the club," said director of rugby Chris Boyd.

"We have an exciting crop of hookers in our squad who are all pushing each other to improve every day, and Sam has taken his opportunity in recent months and performed well as a starter."

The 'ludicrous' build-up facing Fiji as they bid to defend Olympic gold

Quarantine restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant the Fiji players , who are hoping to win a second successive gold medal, have been operating in a training bubble and will only leave in June to take part in a mini-Oceania sevens tournament against Australia and New Zealand in Townsville -the only international competition Fiji will have played in the 16 months leading into then Tokyo Olympics in July.

Rugby World Cup 2021: England open campaign against Fiji in New Zealand

With the tournament delayed a year because of Covid-19, games have been reorganised, meaning England's opener now no longer clashes with Wales' opening fixture.

The Welsh will play their opener in 2022 against a team who have come through qualifying the next day.

Scotland and Ireland are still looking to qualify for the women's showpiece.

The changes also see England's match with France brought forward to become their second game.